This week, our Director of International Programs Jean Stewart commenced on a three weeks’ counter trafficking program scoping trip in Timor-Leste. Jean has been extremely passionate about improving the human trafficking situation in Timor-Leste and embarked on a journey to determine the correlation between human trafficking and disasters.
Timor-Lest is a destination country (demand), as well as an origin country (supply) for human trafficking, and frequently experiences natural hazards, such as cyclones, earthquakes, tsunamis, bushfires, flooding and severe weather. Timor-Leste is listed under the Tier 2 Human Trafficking Watch List, which translates to a considerable human trafficking problem in combination with a failure of the government to show progress towards combatting this illicit trade. Only a few days before Jean’s arrival, Timor-Leste was hit by a 6.4 magnitude earthquake, which fortunately did not result in any casualties.
Jean has been instrumental in extending our reach into Oceania and is now working with local, grass-route organizations to determine the most impactful ways to combat disaster-induced trafficking. We want to thank the International Organization for Migration (IOM) East Timor, Belun, Engineers without Boaders Australia, the Catholic Relief Service and all the other organizations who made themselves available to meet with us, sharing their expertise and in-country experiences.
We are excited to report more news about our research and program-scoping activities in Timor-Leste and will hopefully identify great projects that can drive change. Stay tuned.